SUNDAY: July 21, 2019: THE margin aside, Islands’ impressive victory at Kembla Grange yesterday didn’t surprise her trainer Brad Widdup at all.
As her first racing season nears an end, I Am Invincible youngster Islands ($2.35 favorite) outclassed her rivals in the 2YO Maiden Handicap (1200m) to break through at her fifth start.
With Andrew Gibbons aboard, the filly began well, eased behind leader More Joie ($7) on settling, then sat at her girth soon after.
The pair cleared out before the home turn and Islands, after taking over in the straight, burst clear to score by nearly six lengths from No Harm Done ($12) and Antarctic Ocean ($31), with More Joie fourth.
“It’s pleasing to see Islands show the ability in a race that she has always shown in trackwork,” Widdup said this evening.
“I’ve always had a good opinion of her, and ran her in the Wyong Magic Millions 2YO Classic last December at her first start.”
Widdup put winkers on Islands for her Kembla Grange assignment, and believes the move was a contributing factor to her stunning performance.
“I’m sure it helped her focus better, and also she was fitter,” he said.
“You never expect them to win by five or more lengths, but it was great to get that first success out of the way with her before the season ends.”
A daughter of I Am Invincible from the Flying Spur mare Bella Maddelena, Islands fetched $400,000 as Lot 543 at last year’s Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast.
She was offered by Coolmore, who retained an interest in her and she raced in their famous navy colours yesterday.
There was also a touch of irony in the result. Bella Maddelena won two of her seven starts for Gai Waterhouse, and she was ridden in her last win (a Class 3 Handicap, 1200m at Kembla Grange in March, 2005) by former jockey Mark Newnham, who prepares yesterday’s runner-up No Harm Done.
Islands was the 164th winner prepared at Hawkesbury so far this season – and 25 per cent of them belong to leading trainer Widdup (41 wins).
“Islands has come through the race well and most likely we’ll keep going with her and look for another suitable race,” Widdup said.
Stablemate Rare Episode, who humped a big weight for a metropolitan breakthrough at Warwick Farm last Wednesday, has remained in work and will be nominated for Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The talented young sprinter’s benchmark rating was lifted to 77 after posting the fifth victory of his 11-start career.
Whilst Widdup has had another excellent season, the racing year isn’t over yet as far as he is concerned.
“We’ve got a few runners this week, and hopefully we can keep the winning momentum going,” he said.